Seems people either love them or hate them, judging from the comments on my previous post. I personally adore them in any form and they make a fascinating topic for research, although they don’t inspire poetry …
Beetroots are a rich source of potent antioxidants and nutrients, including magnesium, sodium, potassium and vitamin C, and betaine, which is important for cardiovascular health. It functions by acting with other nutrients to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homologue of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine, which can be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Betaine functions in conjunction with S-adenosylmethionine, folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 to carry out this function.
Additionally, several preliminary studies on both rats and humans have shown betaine may protect against liver disease, particularly the build up of fatty deposits in the liver caused by alcohol abuse, protein deficiency, or diabetes, among other causes. The nutrient also helps individuals with hypochlorhydria, a condition causing abnormally low levels of stomach acid, by increasing stomach acidity.
Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure and thus help prevent cardiovascular problems. Research published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension showed drinking 500 ml of beetroot juice led to a reduction in blood pressure within one hour. The reduction was more pronounced after three to four hours, and was measurable up to 24 hours after drinking the juice. The effect is attributed to the high nitrate content of the beetroot. The study correlated high nitrate concentrations in the blood following ingestion of the beetroot juice and the drop in blood pressure. Dietary nitrate, such as that found in the beetroot, is thought to be a source for the biological messenger nitric oxide, which is used by the endothelium to signal smooth muscle, triggering it to relax. This induces vasodilation and increased blood flow.
Other studies have found the positive effects beetroot juice can have on human exercise and performances. In studies conducted by theExeterUniversity, scientists found cyclists who drank a half-litre of beetroot juice several hours before setting off were able to ride up to 20 per cent longer than those who drank a placebo blackcurrant juice.
It is a rich source of the element boron. Field Marshal Montgomery is reputed to have exhorted his troops to ‘take favours in the beetroot fields’, a euphemism for visiting prostitutes.